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The NDV-3A vaccine protects mice from multidrug resistant Candida auris infection


Candida auris is an emerging, multi-drug resistant, health care-associated fungal pathogen. Its predominant prevalence in hospitals and nursing homes indicates its ability to adhere to and colonize the skin, or persist in an environment outside the host-a trait unique from other Candida species. Besides being associated globally with life-threatening disseminated infections, C. auris also poses significant clinical challenges due to its ability to adhere to polymeric surfaces and form highly drug-resistant biofilms. Here, we performed bioinformatic studies to identify the presence of adhesin proteins in C. auris, with sequence as well as 3-D structural homologies to the major adhesin/invasin of C. albicans, Als3. Anti-Als3p antibodies generated by vaccinating mice with NDV-3A (a vaccine based on the N-terminus of Als3 protein formulated with alum) recognized C. auris in vitro, blocked its ability to form biofilms and enhanced macrophage-mediated killing of the fungus. Furthermore, NDV-3A vaccination induced significant levels of C. auris cross-reactive humoral and cellular immune responses, and protected immunosuppressed mice from lethal C. auris disseminated infection, compared to the control alum-vaccinated mice. The mechanism of protection is attributed to anti-Als3p antibodies and CD4+ T helper cells activating tissue macrophages. Finally, NDV-3A potentiated the protective efficacy of the antifungal drug micafungin, against C. auris candidemia. Identification of Als3-like adhesins in C. auris makes it a target for immunotherapeutic strategies using NDV-3A, a vaccine with known efficacy against other Candida species and safety as well as efficacy in clinical trials. Considering that C. auris can be resistant to almost all classes of antifungal drugs, such an approach has profound clinical relevance.

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